(Khartoum) An “unprecedented” situation in Sudan: faced with the persistence of fighting in Khartoum and despite the extension of an admittedly little-respected truce, the UN decided on Sunday to send a senior official to the region “immediately” .
Millions of Sudanese remain trapped in shelling and gunfire since the April 15 outbreak of a ruthless power struggle between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane’s army and his number two, General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, who commands the Rapid Support Forces (FSR), feared paramilitaries.
“The scale and speed at which events are unfolding in Sudan [are] unprecedented,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who decided to immediately send his responsible for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths.
“I am on my way […] to explore how we can provide immediate relief” to residents, Griffiths said in a statement on Sunday, saying the “humanitarian situation is reaching a breaking point” in the country.
The massive looting of humanitarian offices and warehouses has “depleted most of our stocks. We are looking for quick ways to bring in and distribute” additional supplies, the senior UN official said, noting that the “obvious solution” is to “stop the fight”.
Hours before a three-day ceasefire expired Sunday at midnight (6 p.m. ET), the two rivals announced its extension, concluded “under the mediation of the United States and the Saudi Arabia,” the Sudanese military said.
A first plane loaded with eight tonnes of aid and which should be able to treat 1,500 people landed on Sunday in Port Sudan, 850 km east of Khartoum, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The war left 528 dead and 4,599 injured, according to widely understated official figures. Both sides accuse each other of violating the truce.
Sunday evening, the fighting continued and the fighter jets continued to fly over Khartoum and Omdurman, its northern suburbs, according to witnesses on the spot.
“There is very heavy fighting and gunfire,” a witness told AFP.
As the fighting has raged for more than two weeks, residents of the capital, when not fleeing, remain barricaded, trying to survive despite food, water and electricity shortages.
Authorities in Khartoum have given officials in the capital “until further notice”, while police say they are deploying to the city to prevent looting.
Most of the country’s hospitals are out of service. For those still functioning, “the situation is untenable” because there is a lack of equipment, Majzoub Saad Ibrahim, a doctor in Ad-Damir, north of Khartoum, told AFP.
Several countries, including France, Germany and the United States, have evacuated their nationals and other foreigners. Canada, however, halted its evacuations “due to unsafe conditions”.
On the diplomatic front, Saudi Foreign Minister Fayçal ben Farhane received an emissary from General Burhane on Sunday.
And neighboring Egypt called for an Arab League meeting on Monday to “discuss Sudan”.
For experts at the Carnegie Middle East Center, General Daglo is trying to buy time: “the longer he can hold his positions in Khartoum, the greater his weight will be at the negotiating table. »
According to the UN, a hundred people have been killed since Monday in West Darfur, a region marked by the bloody civil war of the 2000s.
The UN chief warned of a “terrible” situation with “tribes now trying to arm themselves”.
As the humanitarian drama worsens, the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has stopped “almost all of (its) activities” because of the violence.
At the head of the Janjaweed militiamen, General Daglo, known as “Hemedti”, had carried out the scorched earth policy in Darfur, on the orders of Omar al-Bashir, the former dictator overthrown in 2019 by the street.
The war that started in 2003 killed around 300,000 people and displaced nearly 2.5 million, according to the UN. The Janjawid officially gave birth in 2013 to the FSR, paramilitary auxiliaries of the army.
Today rivals, Generals Burhane and Daglo had nevertheless joined forces during the 2021 putsch to oust the civilians with whom they had shared power since the fall of Bashir.
But differences then appeared and, for lack of agreement on the integration of the FSR into the army, degenerated into open war.